A #Glutenfree Girl's Guide: How to Thrive Even When Your Body Isn't

You groan as you hear your alarm beeping. It’s six a.m., which means it's time to get up for work. Except when you try to move, your body aches, your head throbs and your limbs feel like cement blocks. You've probably felt ill like this before. For the 117 million Americans with chronic illnesses, however, feeling ill is part of their daily lives. I know because, as a woman with celiac disease and fibromyalgia, I am one of them.

How can you thrive even when your body isn't? Whether you have a chronic illness or a stuffy nose, here are Entity's (where this article first appeared) top six tips to cope.

casey the college celiac entity

1. Take an honest account of how you're feeling.

Before you can try to make yourself feel better, you need to establish a baseline. It's tempting to tell others, "I'm feeling fine!" even on awful days. Don't lie to yourself – it'll only backfire if you overexert yourself. Some people might like to place themselves on a 1-10 scale (one being dead, 10 being Wonder Woman). Others might prefer just noting whether they're better or worse than the day before. Find what system works for you, and use it to establish what you can and shouldn't do that day.

2. Make a to-do list with "big" and "small" chores.

Whether you're at work or lying in bed at home, most days involve a certain amount of chores to complete. To start checking items off without checking yourself out of commission, begin by separating chores into "big" and "small" categories. Activities like "take out the trash," "send emails" or "make a doctors appointment" are simple chores you can complete even on days you feel your worst. At the same time, reminding yourself to finish that report for work and take your car to the auto shop keeps you from worrying you'll forget and motivates you to save your energy for these big-ticket items. By the end of the day, make sure you've checked off at least one item from your list - big or small. This keeps you from feeling guilty for resting “all day” or from feeling anxious about not getting anything done.

3. Don't be afraid to say, "No" to activities.

As Adweek explains, "FOMO" or "Fear of Missing Out" is a legitimate psychological condition in which people worry about missing out on opportunities "more exciting" than what they're presently doing. In my experience, FOMO is especially prevalent when, because I don't feel well, I have to stay at home rather than go out with friends who are probably having an awesome time. As tempting as saying, “Yes” to everything can be, sometimes our bodies need rest more than excitement. Not to mention that going to a so-so event when you aren't feeling well could prevent you from going to an awesome event later on!

casey the college celiac entity
Like a late 21st birthday girl's night out...
4. Vent it out!

Sometimes a girl (or guy) just needs a good rant to feel better. Find a friend who doesn't mind hearing you vent about your cold, your chronic arthritis, your asthma or whatever condition is keeping your body from thriving. Don’t be afraid to cry if you need to. If I've accidentally eaten gluten and feel like a zombie, I'll call my mom and have her listen to my "Life's not fair!" rant. Bonus points if your friend is prepared to lay in bed with you, eat food and watch Netflix.

5. Find a (relatively easy) hobby you love.

For me, that hobby is baking. There's something comforting about the smell of baked cinnamon - not to mention the taste of homemade cookies, cupcakes or granola. Find an activity you enjoy (preferably one that you can do even on days you don't feel extremely well) and have fun with it! Though "thriving" should include getting chores done or working, it should also include some time for rest and self-lovePossible hobbies can include anything from Sudoku to gardening to taking a scented bubble bath.

6. Accept that your definition of "thrive" may differ from other's.

It's easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others and feeling inadequate. If Katie manages to work two jobs, volunteer part time and have a boyfriend, your accomplishment of getting out of bed and finishing three assignments for work may feel like a failure. While it hasn't been easy to accept, I've realized that I need to create my own version of success. I'm not like everyone else – in my personality or my medical history – and my view of "accomplishment" should reflect that.

casey the college celiac entity
Reaching for the sky...
It doesn't matter if other people think you're thriving; what matters is that you know you are.

**Though I wrote, "How to Thrive Even When Your Body Isn't," it first appeared at Entity Magazine!**

*Also found at Let's Get Real, Saucy Saturdays, RunningwithSpoons and IHeartNapTime!*

What tips do you use to thrive when you're body isn't? Have you used any of the ones that I shared? Let me know below!


  1. These are great tips! I agree, it' so important to be honest with yourself on how you feel and not do too much on days you don't feel so well.

    1. Glad you agree Kristina! That's one tip I have a hard time listening to, but I'm trying to get better at!

  2. Great tips. I think that finding something to put your mind to (hobbies, baking) can help so much. Also, finding support groups or others who understand/are going through the same thing is paramount.

    1. Support groups are soooo important! Thank goodness for Internet - it makes connecting with people experiencing similar challenges even easier!

  3. Wow, these are all really important things to keep in mind. You should always listen to your body even when you really want to do something. It will just come back to bite you later.


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